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Is the decay constant , constant for all isotopes of element

  1. Jan 24, 2015 #1
    I have this true and false question:

    " The half life and therefore the decay constant will be the same for every isotope
    a) True
    b) False
    c) only if it is an isotope of the same element
    "

    I think this is false, just by intuition.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2015 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    But you need more than just intuition... how could you check if all isotopes of the same element have the same decay constant?
    For instance - can a stable element have radioactive isotopes?
     
  4. Jan 25, 2015 #3
    Yes they can, I know there is Tritium , an unstable isotope of the stable element Hydrogen.

    To check, we can place two samples in a container and monitor their loss of matter, and it should be equal?
     
  5. Jan 25, 2015 #4

    Simon Bridge

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    Very good... so what is the decay constant for hydrogen?
     
  6. Jan 25, 2015 #5
    I read that Tritium has half life of 13.2 years, where as deuterium has a halflife of 10.3 minutes. Thank you :)
     
  7. Jan 25, 2015 #6

    Simon Bridge

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    Even if you didn't know those values, you know that tritium decays and hydrogen does not, so the decay constant for hydrogen (half-life infinity) is not the same as for tritium (half-life finite). This is how you can get needed conclusions from incomplete information.
     
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